a person who installs and repairs piping, fixtures, appliances, and appurtenances in connection with the water supply, drainage systems, etc., both in and out of buildings.
Slang. an undercover operative or spy hired to detect or stop leaks of news or secret information, often using questionable or illegal methods, as illegal entry or wiretapping.
Obsolete. a worker in lead or similar metals.

Nearby words

  1. plumb-bob,
  2. plumbaginaceous,
  3. plumbaginous,
  4. plumbago,
  5. plumbeous,
  6. plumber's helper,
  7. plumber's snake,
  8. plumbery,
  9. plumbic,
  10. plumbicon

Origin of plumber

1375–1425; 1965–70 for def 2; late Middle English, spelling variant of Middle English plowberLate Latin plumbārius leadworker; replacing Middle English plummer < Anglo-French; Old French plummier < Latin, as above. See plumb, -er2




a small mass of lead or other heavy material, as that suspended by a line and used to measure the depth of water or to ascertain a vertical line.Compare plumb line.

adjective Also plum.

true according to a plumb line perpendicular.
Informal. downright or absolute.

adverb Also plum.

in a perpendicular or vertical direction.
exactly, precisely, or directly.
Informal. completely or absolutely: She was plumb mad. You're plumb right.

verb (used with object)

to test or adjust by a plumb line.
to make vertical.
Shipbuilding. horn(def 32).
to sound with or as with a plumb line.
to measure (depth) by sounding.
to examine closely in order to discover or understand: to plumb someone's thoughts.
to seal with lead.
to weight with lead.
to provide (a house, building, apartment, etc.) with plumbing.

verb (used without object)

to work as a plumber.

Origin of plumb

1250–1300; Middle English plumbe, probably < Anglo-French *plombe < Vulgar Latin *plumba, for Latin plumbum lead

Related forms
Can be confusedplum plumb Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for plumber

British Dictionary definitions for plumber



a person who installs and repairs pipes, fixtures, etc, for water, drainage, and gas

Word Origin for plumber

C14: from Old French plommier worker in lead, from Late Latin plumbārius, from Latin plumbum lead



a weight, usually of lead, suspended at the end of a line and used to determine water depth or verticality
the perpendicular position of a freely suspended plumb line (esp in the phrases out of plumb, off plumb)

adjective Also: plum

(prenominal) informal, mainly US (intensifier)a plumb nuisance

adverb Also: plum

in a vertical or perpendicular line
informal, mainly US (intensifier)plumb stupid
informal exactly; precisely (also in the phrase plumb on)


(tr often foll by up) to test the alignment of or adjust to the vertical with a plumb line
(tr) to undergo or experience (the worst extremes of misery, sadness, etc)to plumb the depths of despair
(tr) to understand or master (something obscure)to plumb a mystery
to connect or join (a device such as a tap) to a water pipe or drainage system
Derived Formsplumbable, adjective

Word Origin for plumb

C13: from Old French plomb (unattested) lead line, from Old French plon lead, from Latin plumbum lead

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for plumber
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper